Blood, Sweat and Tears: The Story of Gazza
Windhoek – The Southern Times (TST) had a one-on-one encounter with one of Namibia’s most prominent artistes and kwaito master, Lazarus Ndeshimona Shiimi, well known as Gazza.
TST: When did you start with music and what was the inspiration?
Gazza: Professionally, I started in 2001, but I have been in music since high school ‑ Grade 8. I sang my first song at school; it played on NBC radio and before I knew, it was something big. Music is more of a passion for me, nothing really inspired me. I can spend a night in studio without getting tired; basically I can do music anytime, anywhere. I always did music at school. Took part in talent shows, was in the school and church choirs. Music has always been with me, I just love music and I did not think it was going to be a career.
I worked for Bank of Namibia, Aim Publications and Minolta Namibia where I worked for a year plus then I went to England for a year where I used to work in the gardens. While I was there, I released an album ‘Tanauka’. That’s when I was nominated for the first awards; the SANLAM-NBC awards. I came back home and never went back and that’s when I quit my other job because I couldn’t balance both. The nominated songs were ‘Tanauka’, ‘Ghetto Life’ and ‘M’China’.
TST: How many albums have you released and what type of music do you produce?
Gazza: Studio albums eight. I am an MC (Moving the Crowd). I do what’s current as long as it moves the crowd. I call my music Ghetto because it’s highly inspired by the ghetto life, that’s where I draw my inspiration from and although I am not in the ghetto life anymore I do it to inspire others who are still living that life.
TST: How would you describe the NAMAs experience? How many awards did you win this year?
Gazza: The awards have changed a whole lot from the very first (SANLAM to Namibia to the current NAMAs). The experience is always different as the sponsors are different. It’s an emotional rollercoaster because at times you feel like you have worked so hard, while the judges will see it differently. What we as artists are trying to make them realize is that sometimes it breaks us down because they are not looking deep into our work. So, I don’t really focus on the NAMAs when making music, but I do it for my fans. As an MC, I try to move every crowd ‑ young and old, new and old fans alike. I have won three awards: Best Music Video, Best Collaboration and Best House.
TST: Is your music playing internationally?
Gazza: There are individuals loving my music internationally. “Pas Op”, featuring Cleo, is a hit in South Africa. ‘Kwateni Omnona’ is also a hit in Zambia.
TST: What actually triggered the “beef” between you and The Dogg? How do you feel now that you have reconciled?
Gazza: The “beef” is more than personal and it goes way back. The people who are surrounding us started the whole thing and everything just escalated from there. We started performing together but people always compared us saying Gazza is better than Dogg or Dogg is better than Gazza and that’s exactly how it all started. We have reconciled recently, it was a joint effort and somehow society contributed because they would always tweet things like “We can’t wait to see the day Gazza and Dogg share the stage again”. Moreover, we are mature now.
The whole time the beef was on I felt like I was stuck because at times you could not even express yourself freely without people thinking that you are directing it to someone, but now that we are good it feels like I am a new comer in the industry. I am now flourishing and the ideas of what to sing about just keep coming my way.
Sharing the stage at the NAMAs was a great feeling that I just can’t put to words. It was definitely nerve-wracking at first because you don’t know how the fans will react but we were determined to do it. Seeing the fans react so well to a performance gives you the “oomph” and that’s the feeling you want to leave your fans with.
TST: What was the idea behind your current album “Blood, Sweat and Tears”?
Gazza: It’s more like a summary of my life. All the shed blood, and also my fans who have now become my family because they say blood is thicker than water. The sweat is for all the hard work. While the tears are for all the people I have lost along the way (my mom, dad, brother and colleagues).
TST: What are you currently working on?
Gazza: I am going to release a House Project and Black Sheep’s third album. Also I am looking to sign one more artist this year. I am also working on my season two series of “Just Wyling”, which is about things my crew and I get up to. The first season has 13 episodes and currently we are working on the next 13. We filmed the first series in Atlanta, New York and Hollywood. For the next episodes we are going on a boat cruise from Durban, Mozambique and Bara Islands.
TST: How would you describe Namibia’s music industry and can one solely depend on it financially?
Gazza: Yes, but it takes a lot of hard work, vision and focus. You have to be the manager, business man, director – you have to be everything basically. It’s not easy but if you can balance it all then you surely will survive. It’s hard for me to see someone who is talented but can’t afford to produce a song and just let them go. I help them wherever I can because I am not doing it for the money but for the passion. I get fed by the “big fish” so I must feed the ones who are smaller than me.
TST: What is the way forward?
Gazza: I really want my music to go international, I have measured myself enough and I know I will be able to deliver anywhere in the world. I have the music in me and I pray to God that I don’t lose it.